What I Relate Having an Eating Disorder to
Having an eating disorder and not having 20/20 vision are weirdly similar in a way. With an eating disorder, I wake up blinded; not blinded in a physical way, but in a mental way. I’m blinded to life because the unhealthy thoughts take over.
With an eating disorder, it’s often not real life that’s important, but instead it’s the behaviors in my life that are important. I wake up and immediately think about what I’m going to eat for every meal. As I lay in bed, I google the calories of the foods I plan on eating that day. I am blinded; I don’t see the beautiful earth outside my bedroom window, but instead I see the numbers on the screen. I wake up every morning and check the weather app on my phone. As long as it’s not torrentially down pouring or snowing then I will be running. It helps me plan whether I will be running outside or have to run on the treadmill; either way I will be getting my miles in. I don’t see the weather as an appreciation of the world, but I see it as a marker for where and when I will be running.
I don’t have 20/20 vision. In fact, my vision is so terrible that I wouldn’t be able to make out the structure of someone’s face if they stood 10 feet away from me. I have always wondered what it would be like to wake up every morning and see the world clearly. I truly don’t understand what that would be like or how it happens. This is the same for me in the terms of food. I truly and honestly don’t get how people can look at food, eat it and move on. There’s no anticipation or lingering guilt around the food. If someone wants to eat something, then that someone will — but if they don’t then they won’t. These people have 20/20 food vision; the relationship is clear, it’s intuitive and it’s natural. Mine? Not so much; my food vision is not 20/20. I have to prep myself for it. I have to take the extra time to put my “food glasses” or “food contact lenses” on so I can see more clearly.
However, sometimes these glasses are covered with filth or dirt and I can’t see as clearly. I struggle through the meal; I still eat, but I choose the safe option because my vision is still not perfectly clear even with my recovery glasses on. Then I try my contact lenses, but no matter how hard I try, they won’t stay in my eyeball; but for some reason that shouldn’t exist, they won’t go in. I must settle for my glasses that day instead. Some days in recovery, no matter how hard I try or how motivated I am, I just can’t do it. I’m not quite sure why I can’t “just eat the meal” or why I can’t “just not exercise,” but for some reason there’s a barrier in the way. There’s a tiny dust particle on my contact lens just like there’s a tiny voice in my head that just won’t budge.
Then there’s those days when I get my contact lenses in and I can see clearly, but later in the day that pesky little dust particle comes into my eye. I can still see, but it hurts. I keep them in because I have no other option, but it’s annoying. This is like when I do choose to fight and challenge my eating disorder. The annoying voice pops up and the anxiety hurts; I can’t stop focusing on it, but I live with it and deal with it. I fight against it because I want to see.
Just like all things in life, there’s a solution. For people like me there’s lasik surgery to acquire 20/20 vision. This allows someone who dealt with waking up with a blurred world, dealt with dirty glasses and dealt with annoying little particles on contact lenses to finally see clearly. There is a fix for what went wrong with someone’s biological makeup. There is also a fix for eating disorders. There’s an “eating disorder lasik eye surgery;” it’s called being recovered!
Unsplash image via Melody P.